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Apple patents depict touch gestures, 'invisible' buttons

updated 01:20 pm EDT, Thu April 29, 2010

Keys could illuminate on demand

Some recent Apple patent applications, made public this week, show continuing interest in evolving how the company's products are controlled. Particularly notable is a concept involving "invisible" buttons, so called because they are flush and built with the same material as their surrounding surface. An example of this is thought to be found in the Magic Mouse, although the patent suggests technology that does not require capacitive input to be touch-sensitive.

To make buttons visible as necessary, however, Apple suggests dotting them with "micro-perforations," which could be rely on backlighting to display various symbols. A modified MacBook, for instance, could have dedicated media playback controls, styled like the clickwheel on an iPod classic. The buttons might light up only when a DVD is inserted into a computer, or music is playing in iTunes. Keyboards, trackpads and other devices could use a similar scheme, although backlights might also be triggered by heat, sound, taps, ambient lighting or motion sensors.

Apple is not ignoring multi-touch technology though, as another application depicts a variety of alternate gestures. These are identified as "spread-hand" movements, assigned to less common commands because they require deliberate thought. Unusually the gestures are also Mac-centric, for example letting users jump to the desktop by twisting four fingers. Apple is rumored to be developing a touchscreen Mac.

[via Patently Apple]

by MacNN Staff



  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Joined: Dec 1969


    absurd patent system

    the fact that someone even thinks that making a button hidden is a patentable idea, shows how absurd the patent system is...

    every day we see the evidence of the absurdity of the patent system, and every day, some of you rush to defend it.

    The patent system doesn't protect innovation, it harms it. What ends up happening is any company with their own armada of patents can go ahead and create a product with hidden buttons, but anyone else won't have the funds to survive the legal attacks.

    So innovation from any smaller company is out of the question. Apple faces patent lawsuits every day. Microsoft is usually defending against up to 50 patent lawsuits on any given day - they can't avoid the patent lawsuits either....but the reason the big companies keep defending it, is only the largest of the large can navigate these tortuous legal waters.

    That, is the system they love - its not about innovation - its all about killing competition, and limiting it.

  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    That doesn't look...

    ...very intuitive to me. Looks like I have to spend a few hours just to learn and remember how to do the basic things a single mouse or trackpad click will achieve.

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